Research and Clinical Interests

My laboratory studies tuberculosis, one of the three major global infectious diseases. In particular, we study how Mycobacterium tuberculosis avoids being eliminated by adaptive immune responses. The ability of TB bacteria to evade immunity is the most important barrier to development of an efficacious vaccine against TB. We currently study antigen-specific CD4+ T cell activation during infection with M. tuberculosis, and the effects of immune selection pressure on antigen sequence variation.

Selected Publications

Comas I, Chakravartti J, Small PM, Galagan J, Niemann S, Kremer K, Ernst JD, Gagneux S. Human T cell epitopes of Mycobacterium tuberculosis are evolutionarily hyperconserved. Nat Genet. 2010 Jun;42(6):498-50. Epub 2010 May 23. doi: 10.1038/ng.590. PMCID: PMC2883744.

Olmos S, Stukes S, Ernst JD. Ectopic activation of M. tuberculosis-specific CD4+ T cells in lungs of CCR7-/- mice. J Immunol. 2010 Jan 15;184(2):895-901. Epub 2009 Dec 9. Cited in Pubmed; PMID 20007536. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0901230.

Desvignes L, Ernst JD. Interferon gamma-responsive nonhematopoietic cells regulate the immune response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Immunity. 2009 Dec 18;31(6):974-85. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2009.10.007.

Wolf AJ, Desvignes L, Linas B, Banaiee N, Tamura T, Takatsu K, Ernst JD. Initiation of the adaptive immune response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis depends on antigen production in the local lymph node, not the lungs. J Exp Med. 2008 Jan 21;205(1):105-15. Epub 2007 Dec 24. Cited in Pubmed; PMID 18158321. doi: 10.1084/jem.20071367. PMCID: PMC2234384.

Blythe MJ, Zhang Q, Vaughan K, de Castro R Jr, Salimi N, Bui HH, Lewinsohn DM, Ernst JD, Peters B, Sette A. An analysis of the epitope knowledge related to Mycobacteria. Immunome Res. 2007 Dec 14;3:10. Cited in Pubmed; PMID 18081934. doi: 10.1186/1745-7580-3-10. PMCID: PMC2228276.

Kincaid EZ, Wolf AJ, Desvignes L, Mahapatra S, Crick DC, Brennan PJ, Pavelka MS Jr, Ernst JD. Codominance of TLR2-dependent and TLR2-independent modulation of MHC class II in Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection in vivo. J Immunol. 2007 Sep 1;179(5):3187-95. Cited in Pubmed; PMID 17709534.

Wolf AJ, Linas B, Trevejo-Nuñez GJ, Kincaid E, Tamura T, Takatsu K, Ernst JD. Mycobacterium tuberculosis infects dendritic cells with high frequency and impairs their function in vivo. J Immunol. 2007 Aug 15;179(4):2509-19. Cited in Pubmed; PMID 17675513.

Banaiee N, Jacobs WR, Ernst JD. LspA-independent action of globomycin on Mycobacterium tuberculosis. J Antimicrob Chemother. 2007 Aug;60(2):414-6. Epub 2007 Jun 19. Cited in Pubmed; PMID 17579235. doi: 10.1093/jac/dkm223.

Banaiee N, Jacobs WR Jr, Ernst JD. Regulation of Mycobacterium tuberculosis whiB3 in the mouse lung and macrophages. Infect Immun. 2006 Nov;74(11):6449-57. Epub 2006 Aug 21. Cited in Pubmed; PMID 16923787. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00190-06. PMCID: PMC1695489.

Banaiee N, Kincaid EZ, Buchwald U, Jacobs WR Jr, Ernst JD. Potent inhibition of macrophage responses to IFN-gamma by live virulent Mycobacterium tuberculosis is independent of mature mycobacterial lipoproteins but dependent on TLR2. J Immunol. 2006 Mar 1;176(5):3019-27. Cited in Pubmed; PMID 16493060.

Peters W, Cyster JG, Mack M, Schlöndorff D, Wolf AJ, Ernst JD, Charo IF. Chemokine receptor 2-dependent trafficking of F4/80dim macrophages and CD11cdim/intermediate dendritic cells is crucial for T cell recruitment to lungs infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis. J Immunol. 2004 Jun 15;172(12):7647-53. Cited in Pubmed; PMID 15187146.

Fortune SM, Solache A, Jaeger A, Hill PJ, Belisle JT, Bloom BR, Rubin EJ, Ernst JD. M. tuberculosis inhibits macrophage responses to IFN-γ through MyD88-dependent and MyD88-independent mechanisms. J Immunol. 2004 May 15;172(10):6272-80. Cited in Pubmed; PMID 15128816.

Nagabhushanam V, Solache A, Ting LM, Escaron CJ, Zhang JY, Ernst JD. Innate inhibition of adaptive immunity: M. tuberculosis-induced IL-6 inhibits macrophage responses to IFNγ. J Immunol. 2003 Nov 1;171(9):4750-7. Cited in Pubmed; PMID 14568951.

Kincaid EZ, Ernst JD. Mycobacterium tuberculosis exerts gene-selective inhibition of transcriptional responses to IFNγ without inhibiting STAT1 function. J Immunol. 2003 Aug 15;171(4):2042-9. Cited in Pubmed; PMID 12902509.

Peters W, Scott HM, Chambers HF, Flynn JL, Charo IF, Ernst JD. Chemokine receptor 2 serves an early and essential role in resistance to Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 Jul 3;98(14):7958-63. Cited in Pubmed; PMID 11438742. PMCID: PMC35450.

Organizational Associations

American Association of Immunologists (former chair, Clinical Immunology Committee); American Society for Microbiology (Chair, Mycobacteriology Division); Chair, Host Interactions with Bacterial Pathogens (NIH, Center for Scientific Review); Chair, Annual Meeting Program Committee, Infectious Diseases Society of America

Selected Awards

Established Investigator, American Heart Association
Sandler Basic Science Award
Best Doctors in America 2005, 2008
Elected to Association of American Physicians, 2009
William M. M. Kirby Lecturer, University of Washington, 2009
Elected to Fellowship in the American Academy of Microbiology, 2010

Additional Information

Ernst Research Profile